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13-year-old wedding photos recovered from the Animas River return to the bride and groom

One not-so-waterlogged point and shoot camera found its way home after a Facebook campaign found the bride and groom, more than a decade after their Durango wedding.

DURANGO, Colo. — Over a decade after James and Holly Estelle got married, and 13 years after their friend lost some photos of their wedding on a rafting trip, that lost camera has resurfaced.

On June 12, 2010, the Estelles got married on a family ranch in Durango.

Holly's friend Coral snapped a bunch of photos of the bridal shower, the wedding, and the after party on an old Olympus point-and-shoot...before losing that camera rafting down the Animas River. 

Credit: James and Holly Estelle

Thirteen years later, that point-and-shoot was retrieved from the mud of the Animas by a stranger and miraculously revived, all its pictures intact.

How were the Estelles reunited with their photos? The way any millennial would get in contact to share important memories: Facebook.

Credit: James and Holly Estelle

"I went up my main feed, and I had just, you know, like 20 or 30 notifications from people tagging me. And the gentleman who found it had posted in a local garage sale site, saying like, 'Hey, did you get married on around June 12, 2010,'" James Estelle said. "And I think it said like, 'did you have like this really like ugly brown station wagon in the background,' which was totally not part of our wedding party. And I was trying to think of that. But sure enough, it was, it was us."

Credit: James and Holly Estelle
The "ugly brown station wagon."

Dozens of friends flagged the couple on a Facebook post from a man who found the camera on a fishing trip.

They were reunited with countless memories: the bridal shower, the wedding, the after party, and of course countless festive tiny top hats.

Credit: James and Holly Estelle
Credit: James and Holly Estelle
Credit: James and Holly Estelle
Countless tiny top hats.
Credit: James and Holly Estelle

"It's kind of reunited a lot of our friends from that time. A lot of them I'm still really close with. And so it kind of just rekindled our connection and the memories we had of that time," Holly Estelle said. "It was a really amazing time in our lives, like being young and just having fun, just having gotten out of college...And I think it's been really cool to kind of go back and remember those good times and reconnect with friends."

While they may not have given the cameras much thought over the years, the couple are grateful to have the photos returned.

"Most people, I think, would have just assumed that the thing was completely trashed and just thrown it away. And the fact that he like took the time to dig it apart and clean up the SD card and see if there was anything on it, the chances were probably really, really slim that that that was going to be successful. And so, the fact that it was and then he took the time to do that was really cool of him," James Estelle said.

How were the pictures lost in the river anyway?

Credit: James and Holly Estelle

"She was on a rafting trip," Holly Estelle said of her friend. "She had the camera around her neck on a lanyard and they tipped over and she fell into the water and when she resurfaced the camera was no longer around her neck. So, it got pulled off somehow in the chaos of being underwater."

The Estelles had hired a wedding photographer who knew better than to take their camera rafting with them, so they haven't been completely without photos all these years. Now, they have a new trove of memories to frame.

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